Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mikheil Saakashvili

Mikheil Saakashvili (Georgian: მიხეილ სააკაშვილი, IPA: [mixɛil sɑɑkʼɑʃvili]; born 21 December 1967) is a Georgian politician, the third and current President of Georgia and leader of the United National Movement Party. Involved in the national politics since 1995, Saakashvili became president on 25 January 2004 after President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned in a November 2003 bloodless "Rose Revolution" led by Saakashvili and his political allies, Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Zhvania. Saakashvili was re-elected in the Georgian presidential election on 5 January 2008. He is widely regarded as a pro-NATO and pro-USA leader who spearheaded a series of political and economic reforms. In 2010, he had a 67% approval rating despite being criticized by the opposition for his alleged authoritarian tendencies and electoral fraud.

Some non-Georgian sources spell Saakashvili's first name via the Russian version of the name Mikhail. In Georgia, he is commonly known as "Misha," a hypocorism for Mikheil.

Early life and career
Mikheil Saakashvili was born in Tbilisi, capital of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union, to a Georgian intelligentsia family. His father, Nikoloz Saakashvili, is a physician who practices medicine in Tbilisi and directs a local Balneological Center. His mother, Giuli Alasania, is a historian who lectures at Tbilisi State University.

During University, he served his shortened military service with the Soviet Border Troops in 1989/90. Saakashvili graduated from the Institute of International Relations (Department of International Law) of the Kiev State University (Ukraine) in 1992. He briefly worked as a human rights officer for the interim State Council of Georgia following the overthrow of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia before receiving a fellowship from the United States State Department (via the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program). He received an LL.M. from Columbia Law School in 1994 and took classes at The George Washington University Law School the following year. In 1995, he also received a diploma from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

After graduation, while on internship in the New York law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in early 1995, Saakashvili was approached by Zurab Zhvania, an old friend from Georgia who was working on behalf of President Eduard Shevardnadze to enter politics. He stood in the December 1995 elections along with Zhvania, and both men won seats in parliament, standing for the Union of Citizens of Georgia, Shevardnadze's party.

Saakashvili was chairman of the parliamentary committee which was in charge of creating a new electoral system, an independent judiciary and a non-political police force. Opinion surveys recognised him to be the second most popular person in Georgia, behind Shevardnadze. He was named "man of the year"[dubious – discuss] by a panel of journalists and human rights advocates in 1997. In January 2000, Saakashvili was appointed Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

On 12 October 2000, Saakashvili became Minister of Justice for the government of President Shevardnadze. He initiated major reforms in the Georgian criminal justice and prisons system. This earned praise[dubious – discuss] from international observers and human rights activists. But in mid-2001 he became involved in a major controversy with the Economics Minister Ivane Chkhartishvili, State Security Minister Vakhtang Kutateladze and Tbilisi police chief Ioseb Alavidze, accusing them of profiting from corrupt business deals.

Saakashvili resigned on 5 September 2001, saying that "I consider it immoral for me to remain as a member of Shevardnadze's government." He declared that corruption had penetrated to the very center of the Georgian government and that Shevardnadze lacked the will to deal with it, warning that "current developments in Georgia will turn the country into a criminal enclave in one or two years."

In the United National Movement
Having resigned from the government and quit the Shevardnadze-run Union of Citizens of Georgia party, Saakashvili founded the United National Movement (UNM) in October 2001, a right-of-center political party with a touch of nationalism, to provide a focus for part of the Georgian reformists leaders. In June 2002, he was elected as the Chairman of the Tbilisi Assembly ("Sakrebulo") following an agreement between the United National Movement and the Georgian Labour Party. This gave him a powerful new platform from which to criticize the government.

Georgia held parliamentary elections on 2 November 2003 which were denounced by local and international observers as being grossly rigged. Saakashvilli claimed that he had won the elections (a claim supported by independent exit polls), and urged Georgians to demonstrate against Shevardnadze's government and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the authorities. Saakashvili's UNM and Burdjanadze-Democrats united to demand the ouster of Shevardnadze and the rerun of the elections.

Massive political demonstrations were held in Tbilisi in November, with over 100,000 people participating and listening to speeches by Saakashvili and other opposition figures. The Kmara ("Enough!") youth organization (a Georgian counterpart of the Serbian "Otpor") and several NGOs, like Liberty Institute, were active in all protest activities. After an increasingly tense two weeks of demonstrations, Shevardnadze resigned as President on 23 November, to be replaced on an interim basis by parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze. While the revolutionary leaders did their best to stay within the constitutional norms, many called the change of government a popular coup dubbed by Georgian media as the Rose Revolution.

Saakashvili's "storming of Georgia's parliament" in 2003 "put U.S. diplomats off guard. .... [Saakashvili] ousted a leader the U.S. had long backed, Eduard Shevardnadze." Seeking support, Saakashvili went outside the U.S. State Department. He hired Randy Scheunemann, now Sen. John McCain's top foreign-policy adviser, as a lobbyist and used Daniel Kunin of USAID and the NDI as a full-time adviser.

On 24 February 2004 the United National Movement and the United Democrats had amalgamated. The new political movement was named the National Movement - Democrats (NMD). The movement's main political priorities include raising pensions and providing social services to the poor, its main base of support; fighting corruption; and increasing state revenue.

Georgia–Russia relations
Saakashvili held an official meeting[when?] with the Prime Minister of of Russia Vladimir Putin, in his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo. The presidents discussed the issues of aviation regulations between the two countries.[citation needed] This was Putin's last meeting as the President of Russia, having been succeeded by Dimitry Medvedev.

However, a series of clashes between Georgian and South Ossetian forces resulted in Saakashvili ordering an attack on Tskhinvali. In response, the Russian army invaded South Ossetia, later followed by the invasion of Georgia proper. The two counterparts were led to a ceasefire agreement and a six-point peace plan, due to the French President's mediation. On 26 August the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, signed a decree recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. On August 29, 2008, in response to Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze announced that Georgia had broken diplomatic relations with Russia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev holds Saakashvili responsible for the 2008 South Ossetia war, and states that Saakashvili is responsible for the collapse of the Georgian state. Medvedev has stated "(a)s soon as Georgia gets a new leader we will have every opportunity to restore ties."

Personal life
Saakashvili married Dutch-born Sandra Roelofs, whom he met in 1993. The couple has two sons, Eduard and Nikoloz.

Apart from his native Georgian, he speaks fluent English, French, Russian, and Ukrainian,and has some command of Ossetian and Spanish.

Saakashvili is played by Cuban-American Hollywood actor Andy García in the 2010 Hollywood film 5 Days of War by Finnish-American film director Renny Harlin. The film will tell the story of Saakashvili and the events during the 2008 South Ossetia war.

From : www.wikipedia.org